Home Technology Generative AI: Replacing or remoulding future workforce?

Generative AI: Replacing or remoulding future workforce?

As businesses leverage the potential of generative AI, a mindful approach to ethical and responsible usage remains paramount

by Akanki Sharma
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A recent Forbes Advisor survey has revealed that 64 per cent of businesses expressed anticipation for increased productivity through the adoption of generative AI, marking a transformative wave in the business landscape. This technology, capable of automating processes, is proving to be a game-changer not only in customer-centric sectors, but across industries.

There is no doubt that the influence of generative AI is diverse. However, as businesses leverage its potential, a mindful approach to ethical and responsible usage remains paramount, experts working in the technology sector believe.

LinkedIn’s “2023 Emerging Jobs Report” highlights the growing demand for specialised AI, data science and digital marketing roles, signalling a potential shift in the workforce landscape. While generative AI promises to automate routine tasks, concerns about job displacement persist. Nevertheless, it is viewed optimistically as a means to augment human capabilities and lead to job evolution, emphasising complex and creative tasks.

“This shift emphasises the need for upskilling initiatives to equip employees with the necessary skills for effective collaboration with AI systems. Jobs may evolve to require inherently human qualities such as emotional intelligence and critical thinking. Organisations should invest in training programmes to facilitate a symbiotic relationship between humans and generative AI,” opines Vinay K Mayer, Director – Market Research and Consulting, Asia Research Partners (ARP).

He further says, “Despite the positive aspects, challenges arise with the rapid integration of AI. Job displacement remains a concern, and continuous upskilling demands significant investments. Balancing the advantages of generative AI with addressing potential drawbacks is crucial for a sustainable transition in the job market. The surge in job postings for AI-related skills on platforms like Upwork, with a 120 per cent increase in 2022, underscores the growing demand for talent in this evolving landscape.”

Starting small, thinking big

Generative AI can mimic the human creative process by creating novel data similar to the kind it was trained on, elevating AI from enabler to (potentially) co-passenger. It also has the potential to add contextual awareness and human-like decision-making to enterprise workflows, and could radically change how we do business. Ultimately, it could create a more profound relationship between humans and technology. While it reduces the need for operational roles in an organisation, it opens up higher-order or newer opportunities of work.

Sanghamitra Pati, Leader – Strategy and Analytics (AI and Data), Consulting, Deloitte, stresses on starting small, but thinking big.

“While AI adoption rates and maturity vary widely across industries, it is driving new levels of efficiency and performance for businesses of all sizes and types. It is quickly becoming a competitive necessity, driving unprecedented levels of efficiency and performance, generating experiences and capabilities; making it possible for businesses of every shape and size to do things that simply weren’t possible before. The key to success is to start small, but think big. According to a recent Deloitte survey, only 26 per cent of businesses are focussed on deploying high-impact AI use cases at scale,” she states.

Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO, Next Education, emphasises on the transformative impact of generative AI on the workforce, particularly in the realm of K-12 education. He highlights how AI streamlines operations, fosters a culture of smarter work, and enhances learning experiences, ultimately nurturing the mental and emotional well-being of the team.

“AI has not just streamlined our operations, but has also fostered a culture of smarter work. By automating routine tasks, our educators and staff are now empowered to focus on what truly matters – enhancing learning experiences. This shift towards more meaningful work, thanks to AI, is not just about efficiency; it’s about nurturing the mental and emotional well-being of our team. As we embrace AI, we’re not just advancing education; we’re also cultivating a healthier, more balanced workplace where every individual can thrive,” he stresses.

Not an engine for job losses

AI is a way to augment and automate processes rather than just removing humans from every process. Generative AI will help organisations with automating certain aspects of their work processes, allowing employees to focus on more complex and value-added tasks. “Hence, it shouldn’t be perceived as an engine that will result in significant job losses; on the contrary, it has the potential to empower employees and enhance their productivity and efficiency in their daily tasks,” explains Sachin Arora, Chief Innovation Officer and Partner and Head, India Lighthouse (Cloud Data & AI), KPMG.

He adds, “For instance, an organisation that starts its journey with about 25 people in its customer support function can now look to adopt AI for customer services. Continuing with the same example, over a period of time, even though the number of people in the customer support team continues to remain the same, customers increase approximately 20 times over a period of time. Here, AI can help bring in efficiency. Companies that do not leverage technologies such as AI are at the risk of being left behind. People and companies using AI will replace those not doing so and this is going to have more of an impact than actual job losses.”

In addition, according to Arora, organisations offering software engineering, customer service/support and knowledge process outsourcing will be disrupted in the first stage of generative AI as AI assistants can offer intelligence, human-like engagements and assisted software codes at very low cost. Companies will still need people, but they can do a lot more than what they have been doing so far.

“There is an immediate need for organisations and the government to take notice of this and gear up accordingly. We need to focus on three key areas – infrastructure and research in AI as a society, upskilling and how to use generative AI in our day-to-day life at an individual level. Interestingly, you don’t need to know a lot of core of data sciences to use generative AI in most use cases. Today, gearing up for infrastructure that is ready to adopt AI, and honing AI-based skills and jobs are the need of the hour. With a rise in AI adoption, there could be a significant rise in employment under certain categories like creation and development of AI systems, ethical AI, data analysts, etc.,” he says.

Road to responsible use

New technologies can present new risks, and, in AI, identifying and managing risk can be particularly challenging. It is still maturing as a technology, use cases are often novel, and every enterprise and industry contends with unique assets, goals and business priorities. AI outcomes can impact the quality of customer engagements, operational efficiency, brand reputation, compliance, cyber security and more. As a result, organisations deploying this technology must consider where risks exist and take steps to promote its trustworthy application. 

“Since generative AI is relatively new, there is a lack of new policy and governance; and being a new technology, there is lack of knowledge about the implementation and ethics of gen-AI. I believe that the development of national- and industry-specific regulations will help. Further, AI should be checked by experts within an organisation at major phases of development and usage of the model. Mandatory trainings of employees should be undertaken on its usage and ethics. For different industries and societies, ethics could mean different things, which is another hurdle. Therefore, creating panels to include people from different industries and societies while developing ethical guidelines and policies of AI across sectors would be the only solution,” suggests Arora.

There is not an inch of a doubt that technologies have been doing wonders for ages. Now that generative AI will evolve with time, businesses are urged to recognise its transformative power to make the most and the best of it, not forgetting to balance the ethics with safe utilisation.

editor@thefoundermedia.com
journoakanki@gmail.com

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